Illy Classico Instant Coffee, My Review and Photos

Can of Illy Classico instant coffee Illy blend

by Nigel Ong

If you have gotten tired of drinking regular instant coffee, you can always explore coffee from other regions. I have always found Euro-style coffee refreshing and not too alien from what we are used to in America. 

With Euro-style instant coffee, there are two brands that you can easily get here in the US, Lavazza, and Illy. Both are Italian and make an excellent blend of instant coffee too. We have reviewed Lavazza’s Prontissimo Intenso before, but what about Illy?

In this post, I will review Illy’s Classico Instant Coffee. I’ll explore how it tastes, black and with flavorings. Finally, I explore how it compares against regular coffee and if it suits you.

What Is The Illy Classico Instant Coffee?

Illy is one of the largest coffee companies in Europe, founded by Francesco Illy in Italy in 1933. It is known for its ESE (Easy Espresso System), where individual espresso shots are packed in pods for easy brewing and extraction. 

Illy also offers instant coffee in three flavors. These are the Classico, Intenso, and Decaffeinato. We will be looking at the Clasico instant coffee today.

Within the range of instant coffee Illy offers, the Clasico uses medium-roasted coffee beans. The Intenso is the dark roast, while the Decaffeinato is the decaf version of the Clasico.

The packaging is simple yet gives you a premium feel. The coffee is contained inside a shiny aluminum/steel tin with a colored plastic lid. The Clasico uses a red lid, the Intenso dark brown, and the Decaffeinato blue.

The Illy Clasico instant coffee is made from a blend of 9 coffee regions and is 100% Arabica. 3% of fine coffee grounds are added to bring out more coffee aroma.

When you open the lid, the instant coffee is protected by a sheet of aluminum foil. Pull it away using the tab, and you can now see the coffee granules. They are in larger flakes, similar to Lavazza Prontissimo Intenso. 

Illy Classico open can of instant coffee

After pulling the tab, I was pleasantly surprised by a burst of coffee aroma. This is unlike other instant coffee I have reviewed before, such as the Starbucks Premium Instant Dark Roast or the Lavazza Prontissimo Intenso. Plus point.

I brought my nose closer to the coffee flakes and smelled them. I could detect some mild earthy smell, with hints of creaminess and sweetness. The mild earthiness may be because this instant coffee is made from medium-roast coffee beans.

Brewing instructions are straightforward. Illy only asks that you mix 1 or two teaspoons of the instant coffee with hot water, not boiling. No water temperature or volume recommendation.

I went with the standard 6 oz (180ml) of hot water with a teaspoon of instant coffee and kept the water temperature around 185°F (85°C).

Illy Classico can of illy blend instant coffee and two cups of coffee

How Does The Illy Classico Instant Coffee Taste?

BlackMild earthy tasteHints of cream, and caramel or sugarcane sweetnessVery smooth, easy to sip coffee
With SugarReduces earthy taste further.Enhanced the natural sweetness of the coffee.Silkier and smoother
With SweetenerReduces earthy taste further.Sweetness comes later than with sugarSweet taste becomes more obvious at the finish.
With Low-Fat MilkCoffee becomes silkier, thicker, and slightly sweeter.Becomes more creamier and decadent.Coffee flavor becomes very diluted.
With CreamerCoffee becomes silkier, thicker.Becomes more creamier and decadent.Coffee flavor becomes very diluted.
IcedHas less creamy hint.Stronger bittersweet flavor.


The coffee has a very inviting smell. It has a slight creamy smell, and for some reason, it reminds me of Mcdonald’s coffee. It also made me think of greasy McMuffins and hash browns and want to bite into some eggs and bacon sandwich.

I took a sip, and was pleasantly surprised. It is a smooth cup of coffee with little smoke and a bit of earthiness in it. True to the aroma, I picked up some creaminess to the coffee and some mild sweetness.

I took a few more sips and concluded the sweetness should be either caramel or sugarcane-like. The coffee is not sour, possibly meaning it is not too acidic. If your stomach is sensitive to coffee, you may find Illy less of a problem.

The coffee is also silky smooth and is very easy to sip. I do not need much effort to enjoy this coffee. 

This can easily be the coffee you sip lazily on weekend mornings or with a cheese and egg sandwich for lunch. This can also be a great working coffee to sip as you click away on your laptop.

With Sugar

I made another fresh cup of coffee, and this time, I slipped in some white sugar. The sugar altered the taste of the coffee. I dislike sugar with my coffee, but I try to be as balanced in my view as possible here. 

I notice the coffee becomes less earthy and much milder. The natural sweetness in the coffee gets further enhanced by the sugar. 

The sugar also makes the coffee silkier and slightly more viscous, making it more inviting to sip and enjoy. The sweet coffee also made me want something savory to chase the sweetness after every sip.

With Sweetener

I made a new cup of Illy Classico instant coffee and slipped in two drops of Equal artificial sweetener. Equal is Aspartame, which should provide a different style of sweetness to the coffee.

The sweetener made the coffee taste sweeter, of course, but I noticed that the sweetness tends to come later. 

When you sip the coffee, you notice the bitterness first before the sweetness comes later. Perhaps this is how Aspartame works. The sweetener also does not seem to thicken the coffee, unlike sugar.

With Low-Fat Milk

After making another fresh cup of coffee, I immediately added a single shot (1 fl oz, or 30ml) of low-fat, UHT (Ultra High Temperature) milk. I made my coffee slightly hotter, considering that the cold milk may drop the coffee’s temperature. 

I was expecting the milk to make the coffee smoother and nicer. In this case, it did its job. 

Milk enhances the creaminess of the coffee, and the lactose inside the milk also makes it slightly sweeter. The milk also thickens the coffee, making it slightly more satisfying to sip.

The milk, however, cut too much into the taste of the coffee. In fact, I think it reached the point that I was wondering if I was drinking coffee-flavored milk or coffee with milk. 

If you like your coffee bitter and stronger, you may not enjoy Illy Clasico with milk. I certainly don’t think it tastes good with milk.

With Creamer

For creamer, I used the Coffeemate coffee creamer. I use the powered version, but liquid ones should taste the same.

The creamer altered the taste of the coffee similarly to milk, with slight differences. The coffee has less sweetness, probably due to the lack of lactose in creamers. It also added more creaminess to the coffee, perhaps more than milk. 

Similarly, the creamer cuts too much into the coffee and dilutes the bitter coffee taste I love. I would not recommend drinking the Illy Classico with creamer unless you like milky coffee like Latte.


When I added ice to the coffee, I thought about how it would taste. The ice made dark roast instant coffees much more bitter and intense than my previous tastings. Would this be the same with medium roasts?

I was glad to be proven wrong. The ice enhanced the bitter flavor but in a nice way. You get that deep, fulfilling bittersweetness like drinking a shaken espresso. The ice also muted the creaminess, making the Illy Clasico taste like a dark roast.

Illy Clasico Instant Coffee vs. Regular Coffee?

Illy Clasico may be an instant coffee, but I personally think it is one of the best I have enjoyed. To me, it easily beats many instant coffee in the market. Just the fact that you get a nice coffee aroma when you open the lid helps it to win against its challengers.

It has more depth of taste and aroma and gives me good enjoyment. I found myself satisfied sipping the coffee too. I can easily drink Illy Classico as a daily coffee and make it my regular Americano.

Against your fast food coffee, Illy Classico can put up a good fight. It certainly can go up against Subway, Dunkin, or McDonald’s coffee. If you put me on a blind test, I would not have guessed that Illy Clasico is an instant coffee.

Who Is Illy Classico Instant Coffee For?

Suppose you are looking for something novel, away from your regular instant coffee. In that case, Illy Clasico is a great place to start. It certainly has that Euro-style taste, but not to the point of being too alien to American palates. 

The Illy Classico can also work well if you want to explore non-American-style coffee. This is because the coffee is 100% Arabica and does not taste too foreign. Coffee from other regions can sometimes taste very different and can turn you off. 

For example, many Asian and African coffee styles mix Robusta, Liberica, or Excelsa beans. Some, such as Turkish coffee, add additional ingredients, such as spices. There is also White Coffee, which may be roasted and prepared differently. 

Finally, I also think the Illy Classico is a worthy upgrade from regular instant coffee, especially when they are not too expensive. Who says you need to spend a lot of money just to enjoy something nice?

Leave a Comment